The pressure may be off the Cleveland Cavaliers this season after finally ending their championship drought in stunning fashion against the Golden State Warriors, but LeBron James is not ready to adopt that mindset.
The Cavs became the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals and ended the city of Cleveland's 52-year wait for a title.
The entire franchise will be in a celebratory mood tonight as they kick off the new campaign by receiving their championship rings and putting up the banner at the Quicken Loans Arena.
It will be LeBron's third ring and though he doesn't want to downplay the occasion for the fans and his teammates, he doesn't want them to be content with just one Larry O'Brien trophy.
“We’re not satisfied,” he said. “We’re not satisfied with just winning one championship. We’re not satisfied with just being successful. We want to continue to get better. Does that mean you’re going to be able to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the season? Absolutely not. But we want to give our team chances, give ourselves a better opportunity, because we want to put in the work.”
When the King won his first title in Miami, he followed that up with a second the following year, so he knows exactly what it takes to repeat.
The Cavaliers and Golden State are the overwhelming favourites to meet in the finals for a third consecutive year and James will be in line for his seventh straight trip.
But the four-time MVP isn't interested in his individual achievements and wants to continue to be a leader for his team so they can become even better than they were last season.
“I don’t think these guys need any talks on what they haven’t done before. Everything we did last year was something guys hadn’t done before,” James said. “Our only mind-set right now is: ‘How we can continue to get better every day?’ It’s a process.
“The good thing is we’ve got most of our guys back. We can get back to the flow of things, but we can’t shortcut anything. This is a new season and we’re the defending champions, but that means absolutely nothing right now.”
The Wine and Gold will tip off the new campaign against the New York Knicks in front of a raucous crowd tonight.